The Trade and Economic Relations Committee held its 17th meeting on the 29th April 2011 under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister.

The committee reviewed the status of the India-European Union Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement and discussed the various issues involved in the negotiations. It was observed that concern has been raised by various quarters about the Indian stand on issues on Intellectual Property Rights, especially in the context of the Indian Pharma products. The Prime Minister firmly directed that the Indian side shall not take on any obligation beyond TRIPS/ Domestic Law.

The Committee discussed proposals for two new economic engagements through the mechanism of Free Trade Agreements with Australia and with the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It was apprised that the Joint Study Group constituted for studying the feasibility of a FTA with Australia has observed that India and Australia produce highly competitive and largely complementary goods for export to international markets. While economic activity in each country has led to substantial growth in bilateral goods trade, tariffs and non-tariff barriers continue to raise the cost of imports, imposing implicit taxes on businesses and consumers alike. A comprehensive FT A between Australia and India would benefit both countries and such liberalization would provide impetus to economic activity and economic welfare in each economy. The Committee accorded approval to the launch of the FTA negotiations with Australia.

The TERC also considered the proposal for establishing a Joint Study Group to examine the policy framework for enhancing the bilateral economic relationship between India and COMESA and assessing the feasibility of a comprehensive FTA/PTA covering trade in goods, services and investment and accorded its approval for the same. It was observed that bilateral trade between India and COMESA has shown very good growth during the last five years and the trade balance continues to be in our favour.

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